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HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS
Still An Important State Asset
Austin F. Hawes, State Forester
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HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS STILL AN IMPORTANT
by Austin F. Hawes, State Forester
At the first meeting of the Forest Rehabilitation Committee ap-
pointed by Governor Cross after the hurricane, the Committee recom-
mended the preparation of a bulletin :
a. to summarize the results of the hurricane from a forest stand-
b. to record the measures which were taken to relieve the sit-
c. to present a revised picture of the forests of the state as they
are today and outline a forest policy for the future.
It was the thought of the Committee that a good deal of pessi-
mism exists as to the forests because of the hurricane and that the
public should be advised that in spite of the serious loss sustained the
forests are still a source of great potential wealth to the state and
deserve careful treatment if they are to fulfill their proper function.
It is for the purpose of carrying out this recommendation of the
Committee that this bulletin has been prepared. Acknowledgment is
made of many helpful suggestions received from various employees
of the State Forestry Department and of the Connecticut CCC camps
and special mention is made of contributions by Dr. Raymond Kien-
holz and W. F. Schreeder.
T. F. RADY & CO.,
1. THE HURRICANE
The hurricane which hit New England with such destructive ef-
fect on the afternoon of September 21, 1938 was of tropical origin. On
the evening of September 16 it was located about 500 miles northeast
of the Leeward Islands. Moving westward and then northwestward
at the rate of 15-20 miles per hour it swung northerly up the coast
past Cape Hatteras on the morning of September 21. (Figure 1.) It
had gradually increased its speed of progress to 60 miles per hour
when it hit the southern coast of Long Island and crossed to the Con-
necticut shore line. The center of the storm passed just to the west
of New Haven at 3:50 P. M. and just to the west of Hartford at 4:17
P. M. Swinging slightly westward it crossed Massachusetts and Ver-
mont (Northfield 7:30 P. M.) into Canada, where it was no longer
The cause of the increase in speed of its northward movement
from 15 miles to 60 miles as it approached the Connecticut shore is
not clearly known. The very rapid northward movement of the
storm center together with its rotational movement, produced un-
usually heavy winds to the east of its path and relatively lighter winds
to the west of its path. This accounts for the much greater destruc-
tion in eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island than in western Con-
necticut. Maximum wind velocities and directions as recorded by
selected Weather Bureau Stations for 5-minute intervals were: Block
Island, 82 miles per hour from the Southeast; Boston, (airport) 73S ;
Burlington, 47S ; Hartford, 46NE and Providence 87SW. These fig-
ures do not, however, give one an adequate picture of the strength
of the gusts of wind which were so destructive. At New Haven,
where the maximum velocity for a 5-minute period as recorded by the
Weather Bureau was about 45 miles an hour, the Koppers Coke
Company recorded the strength of individual gusts as high as 87
miles an hour, nearly twice as strong as for a 5-minute period. If
this relationship held throughout, wind velocities may well have
reached over 100 miles per hour in most parts of the devastated area.
The Blue Hills Observatory, Milton, Mass., located on a low hill,
recorded 121 miles per hour for a 5-minute period and for shorter
periods the wind reached a velocity of 173 and 183 miles per hour.
The highest wind velocity ever recorded by means of an anemometer
on Mt. Washington was 231 miles an hour on April 12, 1934.
The rainfall which preceded and accompanied the hurricane was
excessive. Its distribution is shown in Figure 2. Central Connecti-
cut received from 14 to 17 inches of rain from September 17 to Sep-
tember 22 inclusive. Probably 75 per cent of the rain fell prior to the
time of maximum wind velocity and soaked up the soil until it was
soggy and muddy. The soft condition of the soil undoubtedly had an
effect on the firmness with which the trees were rooted and the con-
sequent ease with which they were blown over by the wind. In con-
4 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
trast with the large amount of rainfall in central Connecticut the
southeastern part of the state had only 4 to 5 inches of rainfall while
Rhode Island stations reported even less (Providence 3.09, Kings-
ton 2.80, Block Island 3.46).
Hurricanes similar in destructiveness to the one of September 21,
1938 occurred on August 15, 1635 and again on September 22, 1815.
It is possible that widespread destruction of forests during these ear-
lier storms may have resulted in the loss of much of the older timber
Fig. 1 — Chart showing general path of hurricane and accelerated speed as it
approached New England.
Courtesy of Professor Charles F. Brooks and Middletown Scientific Association.
as was the case in 1938 thus accounting in part for the absence of very
large trees in the state during our generation, although extensive cut-
ting has been the main cause of forest depletion.
The combination of soggy ground, strong wind and the sail sur-
face of a full complement of leaves proved too much and many shade
and forest trees were broken or blown over by the hurricane. If the
hurricane had occurred after the hardwoods had lost their leaves the
destruction would not have been nearly as severe as it was. The
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
sight of many trees in full leaf blown down across streets and roads,
carrying down telephone wires, breaking down fences and buildings,
and uprooting great masses of earth and roots carrying with them
sections of sidewalk, was a depressing one. The leafy crown of a
tree is a very large object when lying on the ground where one can
see it easily. The result was a tendency for every one who saw the
destruction immediately after the hurricane to over-estimate the num-
ber of trees which had been destroyed. A later, more thorough in-
vestigation of the damage reduced the first high estimates to more
nearly the truth. However, estimates place the loss of public shade
trees alone in Connecticut at over 100,000.
Most of the damage occurred east of the Connecticut river or,
more accurately, east of the center of the storm ; that is, east of a line
drawn from New Haven through Hartford (Figure 1). The actual
damage by counties will be discussed more fully later.
The greatest damage was done to pure stands of conifers of large
size. This fact is repeatedly borne out by observations over the en-
tire hurricane area. The Shaker Pines, north of Hazardville, were
completely blown down. Very few trees were broken off, practically
all were blown over. Wherever breakage occurred investigation
nearly always showed the ravages of carpenter ants or decay fungi.
The main stand of the Shaker Pines, 70 years old, averaged about 80
feet in height and was made up of white pine with a few red pine in-
termixed. Practically all older stands of white pine east of the Con-
necticut River were partially or completely destroyed.
The beautiful old stand of hemlocks along Mashamoquet Brook
was completely blown down as was also much of the stand of hem-
locks at Devils Hop Yard State Park.
The extensive stands of southern white cedar in the swamps
near Voluntown (Pachaug Forest) were very heavily damaged by
the hurricane. Shallow-rooted, tall, in dense stands, the wind liter-
ally pushed over whole acres of these trees as though a great hand
had slowly but inexorably swept over the land, leveling everything
before it. Sometimes the wind pushed the trees only part way over
and they now lean at a sharp angle.
Old plantations of white pine (Mt. Higby Reservoir, Middletown
Water Board, and Nipmuck Forest, Union) red pine (Rainbow
plantations), Scotch pine (Rainbow plantations) and spruce were
badly damaged, usually being almost completely blown over. In a
few cases the mixed hardwood type was also heavily damaged.
Where the hardwoods overtopped the pine and hemlock, they suf-
fered more heavily than the pine and hemlock.
Large, dominant trees were more severely damaged than smaller,
suppressed trees. In the stands of uneven age the dominant trees
whose crowns extended into or above the dominant canopy were al-
most always broken or wind thrown wherever the damage was at all
evident. This was usually true of mixed hardwoods or of stands of
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 7
hardwoods with an understory of conifers and especially true of
isolated pine or hemlock scattered through a hardwood stand. Tulip,
because of its rapid height growth, often extended above the rest of
the stand and was frequently wind thrown.
On the Pachaug Forest in southeastern Connecticut on an area
largely white oak, the damaged trees averaged 10.8 inches in diameter
at breast height while the unharmed trees averaged 7.3 inches in di-
ameter. On another area, largely scarlet oak, the damaged trees
averaged 10.5 inches D. B. H. and the erect trees 8.8 inches D. B. H.
In a few cases, pine under hardwoods was damaged, while the
hardwoods were not.
Some species, such as hickory, white oak, ash and sugar maple,
seemed less subject to damage than others. There was great di-
versity of opinion among observers concerning the ability of the dif-
ferent species to resist hurricane injury, but wide observation in-
dicates that hickory, hard maple, white oak and white ash were most
resistant to injury in the order named.
Some species, such as large-toothed poplar, trembling aspen,
cottonwood, scarlet oak and tulip, were particularly subject to hurri-
cane injury. The poplars showed up badly, both in the forest and as
shade trees. The prevalence of scarlet oak in the southeastern part of
the state, coupled with heavy wind and lack of rainfall caused exces-
sive breakage. Some observers reported spruce plantations less dam-
aged than red pine. Others could see no difference in the number of
trees damaged but found less breakage in spruce. The scarcity of
older plantations of spruce makes a comparison between the two spe-
cies difficult. Old Norway spruce planted as shade trees went down
badly because of the extensive crown they carry, but the same was
true also of white pine.
Isolated hemlocks were fairly resistant to wind throw, partic-
ularly when growing on upland soil. In swamps or on exposed rocky
situations they were apt to be wind thrown.
In the Rainbow plantations, Scotch pine, although damaged to
about the same extent as red or white pine, was very much more apt
to be broken while red or white pine were more apt to be wind
thrown. This was true also of mixed plantations of these species.
Scarlet oak was most severely damaged and white oak least se-
verely damaged of the oaks.
Easterly slopes were mosl frequently damaged followed by south-
erly slopes. Northerly and westerly slopes were least damaged.
In the western pari of the state northerly and westerly slopes
were apt to be damaged more frequently than in the eastern part of
the state because the strongest winds were from that direction on the
west side of the storm.
Ravines were usually severely damaged no matter what direction
they ran because of the funnelling o\ the wind through them ( I Hick
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 9
plot, Cockaponset Forest). The more rolling terrain of the south-
eastern part of the state did not protect the north and west slopes
as did more rugged terrain in the northwestern part of the state.
The shallow rooting characteristic of 'hardwoods or softwoods in
swampy soil caused heavy damage, particularly wind throw, along
streams and in and around swamps (red maple).
In general, mixed hardwood stands under 40 years old were very
slightly damaged. There were small areas in which stands younger
than 40 years were damaged but the chief damage to the younger
trees came from the falling of the overstory trees. Scarlet oak
younger than 40 years tended to be severely damaged, whereas white
oak of that age stood up well.
Softwood plantations under 15 years of age were seldom dam-
aged. Damage varied greatly with location, some of the plantations
near the Sound, as at South Lyme, were damaged even though young.
It might be better to substitute for age the criterion of height. Plan-
tations under 10 feet in height were lightly damaged : from 10 to 20
feet were moderately damaged and over 20 feet were heavily dam-
aged. Fortunately most plantations in the state are small, hence
were not damaged.
Salt water spray turned many trees partially or wholly brown.
This browning was noticeable many miles inland. The effect of salt
spray has already proved serious on many conifers within a few miles
of the shore.
Breakage was more frequent on dry sites than on moist and more
frequent in the southeastern part of the state where rainfall, just be-
fore the hurricane, was scanty. The heavy rainfall which preceded
the hurricane, softened the soil so that roots did not hold well when
subjected to wind strain and the trees were blown over rather than
broken. A very sharp gust of wind might cause breakage even in
trees rooted in a wet soil but the prevalence of wind throw rather
than breakage in moist, low lying areas is indicative of the effect of
moisture. A possible exception to this was found in very wet
swamps, where the trees already accustomed to growing in vvet soil
were not affected by additional rainfall and sometimes withstood the
Breakage east of the Thames River was estimated, on a number
of quarter acre plots, as 40 per cent of all damaged trees while west
of the Thames River it was estimated at 20 per cent.
White pine was more subject to breakage than pitch pine; scarlet
oak than white oak; Scotch pine than red pine and white pine than
Trees which originated as sprouts were more subject to wind
throw and basal breakage than trees which originated from seed.
This was particularly noticeable in sprout scarlet oak where there
was considerable rot at the base of the tree. The rotting stump often
infects the sprouts that grow from it. This is not true of trees of
10 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
2. THE WAY IN WHICH THE FOREST EMERGENCY
Within a few days after the hurricane several New England con-
ferences were held in Boston. These were attended by the state offi-
cials responsible for forest protection, forestry educators, timber own-
ers, lumber manufacturers and others interested. At that time the
amount of timber blown down in New England was estimated as in
the vicinity of three billion board feet. It was evident that if this tre-
mendous amount of lumber was thrown upon an unregulated market
a price war would result so that neither manufacturers nor land own-
ers would be able to salvage any value from the down timber. The
Federal Government was, therefore, petitioned to handle this prob-
lem by some method similar to the way other surplus crops have been
handled. President Roosevelt appointed Chief Forester Silcox as
Federal Coordinator for New England for all problems having to do
The New England Forest Emergency Project was established by
the U. S. Forest Service early in October with headquarters in Bos-
ton under Mr. Earl Tinker and branch offices in each of the New
England States. After some delay arrangements were made with
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to set up the Northeastern
Timber Salvage Corporation for this purpose.
Immediately after the hurricane publicity was issued by the State
Forester urging all timber owners, who had been damaged by the
hurricane, not to sell their timber at sacrifice prices. Col. Thomas
Hewes, who had been appointed State Coordinator by Governor
Cross, called a meeting of land owners in the State Capitol on Octo-
ber 11th when the tentative plan of Government purchase was out-
In addition to the Rehabilitation Committee Governor Cross ap-
pointed three sub-committees to deal with Forest Fires, Timber Sal-
vage and Forest Rehabilitation.
These committees held several meetings and made valuable rec-
ommendations which were printed in the Report of the Rehabilitation
Committee. The most important of these recommendations were as
1. A State appropriation of $100,000. for labor and equipment to
meet the unusual fire hazard resulting from the hurricane.
2. A State appropriation of $5,000. for the installation and operation
of a saw mill in the Pachaug State Forest.
3. A State appropriation of $13,000. for a study of the local forest
products market and of local wood utilization possibilities.
4. A revolving fund of $10,000. to finance the logging of down timber
on the state forests.
5. An appropriation of $10,000. a year for three years for the estab-
lishment of a state nursery to supply planting stock to farmers
and other land owners.
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 11
6. An appropriation of $200,000. a year for the biennium for the ac-
quisition of state forests in the devastated area.
7. The passage of a bill to encourage the establishment of town
8. The passage of a bill for the regulation of clear-cutting of forests.
FIRE HAZARD REDUCTION
From the day of the hurricane the C. C. C. had rendered valuable
service to the Highway Department and the various towns in open-
ing roads, doing sanitation and other emergency work. After the
completion of the emergency work all efforts of the C. C. C. were con-
centrated on fire hazard reduction. The U. S. Forest Service also
sponsored a W. P. A. project to use 2000 men in Connecticut but ex-
cept for a short period not more than one-quarter of this number
were available. Governor Cross made $10,000. available for W. P. A.
transportation. For purposes of fire protection the hurricane zone
was divided into nine Fire Control Areas using rivers and state high-
ways as boundaries. The sides of these roads were cleaned up by
January 1, 1939 to a width of 50 feet in hardwoods and 100 feet in
softwoods. This cleaning consisted in cutting and burning small
branches and twigs of wind thrown trees. Tree trunks and usable
limbs were left on the ground for the owners' use on the theory that
these are not readily inflammable. This cleaning was for the dual
purpose of preventing the starting of fires on the roadsides and to es-
tablish adequate fire lines where large fires can be checked. Upon
the completion of the work on the roads bounding the main areas
these areas were sub-divided by other roads into 61 fire blocks.
Early in January 1939 Governor Baldwin secured an emergency
appropriation of $350,000. for repair of damage caused by the hurri-
cane. Of this $31,730. was allotted to the Forestry Department for
fire hazard reduction. Twelve crews of 15 men each were employed
from the beginning of February to supplement the work of the C. C. C.
and the W. P. A. with the result that the boundaries of the 61 sub-
divisions and many other roads were cleaned up in the way described
above before April 1st. Debris had also been cleaned away from
practically all houses for a distance of 200 feet.
Congress passed a Deficiency Bill appropriating $5,000,000. for
fire hazard reduction work in New England. Connecticut's share of
this appropriation is $500,000. With this money the Forest Service
is employing about 400 men to do similar work on areas which had
not been covered by the State, C. C. C. and W. P. A. crews.
The Timber Salvage Administration set up three grades of pine
logs with prices of $18, $14, and $12 per thousand feet delivered at
designated stations. However, the owner receives only 90 per cent
of these prices, as 10 per cent is retained by the R. F. C. to assure
12 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
the financial success of its program. All pine logs are to be stored in
ponds or sawed immediately upon delivery. Up to June 30, 1939
twenty-one ponds had been designated in Connecticut for storage of
pine. The amount contracted for is 23,800,000 bd. ft. and the amount
delivered is 10,400,000 bd. ft.
Prices offered for hardwood logs such as white wood, yellow
birch, sugar maple, ash and beech, red and white oak are $22, $16, and
$12 respectively for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade logs. Oak logs must
have a minimum length of 8 feet 6 inches. Obviously the land own-
er only receives $10.80 per thousand board feet for hemlock, hard-
wood tie logs, and third grade pine.
There have been 175 stations set up for the delivery of hardwood
and hemlock logs. The amount contracted for is 31,260,000 bd. ft.
and the amount delivered 4,700,000 bd. ft.
Up to the present time the logs sold to the Timber Salvage Ad-
ministration have averaged $12.49 per thousand board feet.
Of all logs received by the Timber Salvage Administration in
Connecticut the average price paid for pine has been $12.09 and for
hardwoods $13.72. The Administration is operating eleven saw mills
in Connecticut at present.
Due to the delay in getting the Government program under way
many landowners had sold their logs to private operators or arranged
to have their logs custom sawed. It is estimated that the total
amount salvaged privately to date is about 11,000,000 bd. ft.
An allotment of $19,350. was made by Governor Baldwin to sal-
vage logs from the state forests and purchase the necessary equip-
ment for the manufacture of part of the lumber. A Chase No. 1 saw
mill with edger and gasoline power unit was purchased for the Pach-
aug forest where there was the largest amount of timber available.
The planer formerly at Natchaug forest was moved to Pachaug.
Sawing of white pine and hemlock was begun on March 25, 1939 un-
der an order from the Public Works Department to furnish kiln-dried
dressed lumber for the reconstruction work at Hammonasset Beach.
What is known as an Arkansas dry kiln was made near the mill.
This consists in a series of ditches like those for a barbecue in which
slab wood is burned. The lumber is piled about seven feet above
ground level. The intervening space is enclosed with old tin and fires
are covered with metal. This kiln proved so efficient that 2" x 4"
lumber was sufficiently dried for use in a week. Up to June 30, 1939,
508,500 board feet of lumber had been sawed.
In addition to milling these logs at Pachaug contracts were made
with the Northeastern Timber Salvage Administration to sell logs
from the Pachaug, Quaddick, and Natchaug forests to the Govern-
ment. Up to June 30, 1939 logs amounting to 290,845 board feet had
been delivered at the Government stations from the state forests.
The average price paid for these logs was $11.81 per M.
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 13
AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAM
Another measure which has been a great help to land owners in
cleaning up the hurricane debris is Practice 12 adopted under the Ag-
ricultural Conservation Program which is administered by the Agri-
cultural Extension Service at the College: Under this practice land
owners are paid $4. an acre up to 15 acres on any holdings for clean-
ing up hurricane destroyed woodland. Up to the middle of March
756 applications had been received and 543 had been approved cover-
ing 6404 acres of forest. The largest areas are in New London, Tol-
land and Hartford Counties.
EMERGENCY FIRE PLAN
The allotment of $4920. by Governor Baldwin for fire fighting
equipment made it possible to provide every deputy fire warden as
well as the district fire warden with the standard equipment which
consists in 3 shovels, 3 brooms, 3 fire tools, 4 to 6 pails and 2 knap-
sack pumps. For each trained registered crew of ten men that a war-
den has this list of equipment is duplicated. By the first of April
1939 there were 97 of these trained crews fully equipped in addi-
tion to 139 district and 529 deputy wardens.
Arrangements were made to have six crews of 20 men each in
the seven C. C. C. camps fully equipped and trained and ready for
fire calls. All other crews engaged in fire hazard reduction work
whether employed by the State, W. P. A. or other Federal Govern-
ment agencies were available for fire fighting.
Two additional trucks were equipped with transmission and port-
able power pumps each with a half mile of hose. This made thirteen
state owned power pump units of which ten were in the hurricane
zone. In addition the Government furnished seven power pumps for
the C. C. C. camps in this area.
Only one lookout tower, that in Sterling, had been seriously dam-
aged by the hurricane and this had been repaired immediately after
the storm. There were, therefore, seventeen lookout towers in oper-
ation during the spring of 1939. Provision has been made for the
erection of two additional towers before next fall.
Arrangements were made with the U. S. Weather Bureau to have
weather conditions reported to the Boston office from seven forest
stations in Connecticut. The Boston office of the Weather Bureau
notifies the various broadcasting stations of the fire weather condi-
tions and this information is broadcast at various times so that all
wardens with radios can keep informed of conditions. Five danger
classes of weather are recognized from No. 1 when there is no haz-
ard, to No. 5, Extreme Hazard. Wardens have instructions not to
issue permits for fires on Class 4 or 5 days.
SPRING FIRE SEASON OF 1939
Weather conditions were fortunately unusually favorable for the
control of forest fires throughout the early part of the spring. There
was a considerable snowfall on March 13th, with the result that very
14 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
few fires occurred in March. This favorable condition was somewhat
counterbalanced by the prolonged drought in May and June, but fires
burn more slowly after the new foliage is formed and consequently
they were controlled effectively. Up to June 29 reports had been re-
ceived of 893 fires which burned 3054 acres or an average of 3.5 acres
per fire. This may be compared with 1444 fires at the same time in
1938 with an average of 4.8 acres per fire. The largest fire of the
season, which burned 165 acres, was west of the area affected by the
hurricane. The prompt action of fire crews resulted in controlling
the fires within as small areas as before the hurricane.
3. ESTIMATE OF HURRICANE DAMAGE TO THE
Immediately after the hurricane it was evident to every one that
there had been a tremendous damage both to the shade trees and to
the forests of the state. The best available information indicates that
approximately 100,000 shade trees on public highways and in public
parks were destroyed. No figures are available on the number of
shade trees destroyed on private property, but it undoubtedly exceeds
the above estimate.
While it has been impossible to make an accurate estimate of the
timber damage, the forest rangers of this department have visited
all sections of the hurricane zone and interviewed a great many land
owners. Because of the fact that most of the forests in this area were
young, the average stand per acre before the hurricane contained
little merchantable timber. While a great many trees that were des-
troyed were large enough for logs, their scattered condition and dis-
tance from roads makes salvage in many cases impracticable. Con-
sequently, there is a wide divergence between the estimated total
damage and the amount considered salvagable as indicated in Table
No. 1. .
Figures given above indicate that about 66 million board feet
have been contracted for up to June 30th which is about sixty per cent
of the estimated salvagable material, while only 26 million feet had
been delivered. This is about one-quarter of the estimated salvagable.
It is a well known fact that most of the work thus far has been in
salvaging white pine. If a real effort is made to salvage hardwoods,
it is believed that the total will not be far from the 111 million feet
In addition to the timber estimated above it is safe to say that
at least 1,500,000 cords of wood in small trees and tops of large trees
are on the ground and that only a relatively small part of this wood
can be salvaged because of the lack of wood using industries in the
On the basis of a survey of 113,000 acres in private forests sur-
rounding the various state forests the standing timber of the state
was estimated four years ago to be 1,771,100,000 board feet. Reduc-
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
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16 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
ing all products to cords the total volume was estimated at 12,970,000
cords. During the succeeding four years this growing stock had in-
creased about 1,000,000 cords so the total before the hurricane was
approximately 14,000,000 cords.
The timber blown over was, therefore, about one-fifth of the total
timber of the state but if the total damage were converted to cord-
wood it would amount to about one-sixth of the total volume.
For the purposes of the State Rehabilitation Commission the en-
tire forest damage was placed at $1,660,000. which is about 6 per cent
of the total property damage caused by the hurricane. This estimate,
of course, ignores the indirect values of the forests destroyed such as
for summer resort property, protection of water, and wild life and the
prevention of erosion. These are intangible values which cannot be
estimated even approximately.
4. PRESENT CONDITION OF THE FORESTS OF THE
While the forests of Connecticut have been in a deplorable con-
dition ever since the death of the chestnut in the early years of the
present century, the timber loss through the hurricane was undoubt-
edly less than it would have been except for this fact. Surveys made
in 1930 and '31 indicated that only 8 per cent of the forest area of the
state was covered with trees of the tie and timber age class. Even
allowing for a slight increase since that time, it is safe to say that this
age class did not much exceed 10 per cent at the time of the hurri-
cane. Most of the hardwood damage was in this age class, although
many individual trees in younger age classes were destroyed. This,
however, is not true of the softwoods, for whole stands of these of
all ages were uprooted. While estimates indicate that about one-fifth
of the timber of the state was destroyed, the damage to the softwood
forests was proportionately greater. Whereas before the storm there
were approximately 215,000 acres in the state covered with forests
containing a considerable proportion of evergreens, it is safe to say-
that this area had been reduced to about 160,000 acres including per-
haps 25,000 acres of plantations. After the salvage of the hurricane
damaged timber, the proportion of softwood to the total lumber pro-
duction of the state will undoubtedly be less for many years than it
has been during the recent past.
The forests of Connecticut now contain approximately one and
one-half billion board feet of timber of merchantable size. Owing to
the fact that it is scattered over such a large area, much of it is not
actually merchantable and will not be until the average stand per
acre has increased. This timber is made up largely of the various
species of oak and birch together with red maple, hemlock and white
pine and small quantities of ash, hickory and tulip or white wood.
Serious as was the damage suffered by Connecticut forests from
the hurricane, it was no more serious than less spectacular damage in
fell ^'»|gs^? ' ?!»Ij?i8iS^^'4; : ■*- ^4sS^ '"* 1^
:,' i'SiSii .-, .'. ■" Xb:»'- ■%?"; ■ 'Vm-.A^y,. ■<:. .-,\ its' i2:.::/4f;i^'A.i . . .
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 17
the past through unwise cutting practices and the uncontrolled fires
which often followed in their wake. The great economic loss caused
by the hurricane as from the chestnut blight was due to the fact that
most of the smaller trees destroyed could jnot be salvaged. In the 27
years previous to 1931 the average annual lumber cut in the state was
79,855,000 board feet, although in the last ten years of the period it
was only 45,600,000 feet a year. Neither of these amounts would
have been excessive if they had been made through the proper selec-
tion of mature trees from a forest with a proper distribution of ages.
It was the long continued practice of cutting all the trees on a tract
regardless of size and age which had resulted in an excess of young
forests and a scarcity of mature timber. This is known as clear cut-
ting as contrasted with a selection cutting which removes only the
large or defective trees and leaves vigorous young trees to grow.
Since the depression the annual lumber cut in Connecticut has been
only about 8,634,000 board feet. A more important factor in the re-
covery of the forest has been the reduced clear cutting of cordwood
which was formerly in demand by the brick, lime and brass indus-
tries. The annual area burned by forest fires has also fallen from
34,540 before 1931 to 6,900 acres since '31. The result of these changes
is that the forests are now in better growing condition in spite of
the hurricane than they were a decade ago. This is indicated by the
TABLE NO. 2— COMPARISON OF FOREST AGE CLASS
DISTRIBUTION OF 1930 AND 1940.
Estimated Forest Area 1,789,000 acres 1,825,000 acres
Approximate proportion of Forest 1
to 20 years old (Saplings) 35 per cent 28 per cent
Approximate proportion of Forest 21
to 40 years old (Cordwood) 32 33
Approximate proportion of Forest 41
to 60 years old (Polewood) 25 28
Approximately proportion of Forest
61 and over (Timber) 8 11
100 " " 100 " "
If a forest is to produce an annual crop it must obviously have a
fairly even distribution of trees of all ages so that each year there will
be about an equal number of large trees to cut. It makes little dif-
ference to the State whether there is an equal number of acres cov-
ered with each age class. Thus a forest of 1000 acres might have a
mixture of trees throughout varying from 1 to 100 years (a selection
forest) or it might have 10 acres covered with each age class from 1
to 100 years (an even aged forest). In either case it would be con-
sidered a "normal forest" because it would be possible to cut the same
amount of timber every year. Contrast such a "normal forest" with
18 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
the forests of Connecticut where only 11 per cent of the trees are over
60 years of age, and where 89 per cent of the forest has little of com-
mercial value. Evidently the Connecticut forests cannot be very
productive until this condition is rectified. Table No. 2 shows that
some progress in this direction has been made in the past decade.
A decade ago the area of forest 41 to 60 years old was estimated
at 447,000 acres. Approximately half of this area is now in the age
class 61 years and over. Thus in spite of the fact that most of the
damage done by the hurricane was to the older trees, the total area
now in the older age class is larger than it was ten years ago.
The U. S. Government Timber Salvage Program should be of
lasting value to the forests and forest owners of Connecticut. It not
only stabilized the market and enabled land owners to secure a fair
price for logs which would otherwise have been unmarketable, but it
has given timber owners an elementary knowledge of volume, grades
and values and it is teaching saw mill operators how to produce and
pile good lumber. The soundness and high quality of Connecticut
timber being produced under these new conditions is proving a reve-
lation to many former skeptics.
Under the grading rules of the Northeastern Timber Salvage Ad-
ministration three grades are recognized for white pine and hardwood
logs. Certain variations are permitted in each grade but a premium
is paid for size, soundness and straightness.
TABLE NO. 3— COMPARISON OF LOG PRICES BY GRADES (1
PAID BY NORTHEASTERN TIMBER SALVAGE
Kind of Timber First Grade Second Grade Third Grade
White Pine $18. $14. $12.
Hardwoods 22. 16. 12.
Hemlock — — 12.
The advantage from raising high grade logs is obvious when the
prices between first and third grade logs are compared. In the case
of white pine first grade logs must be at least 13 inches in diameter at
the top and free from defects while third grade logs need be only 6
inches in diameter. The size of logs is, of course, determined by the
age of the forest, the quality of the soil and the kind of management
the forest has had. The better the management the greater will be
the number of high grade logs on an area, for each successive thin-
ning removes the poorest trees and lowest grade logs.
Table No. 3 shows at a glance that a premium is paid for logs of
large diameter and long lengths. First grade pine logs are worth 50
per cent more per thousand feet than third grade. In hardwoods em-
phasis is on soundness and straightness. First grade logs are worth
83 per cent more than third grade logs.
ll. These prices are for logs per thousand board feet delivered at a depot es-
tablished by the Administration.
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 19
A surprising proportion of the hardwood lumber, about 45 per
cent, has graded No. 1, with 15 per cent No. 2, and 40 per cent No. 3.
Of the pine logs received previous to May 1 about 5 per cent were
No. 1, 75 per cent No. 2, and 20 per cent No. 3. (1
Obviously more labor is involved in handling a lot of small logs
than the equivalent volume in large logs. The International Log
Rule was adopted by the Northeastern Timber Salvage Administra-
tion because it has been found to give the most accurate results.
The number of logs of a few random sizes required to make 1000
board feet of lumber is indicated by Table No. 4.
TABLE NO. 4— COMPARISON OF NUMBER OF LOGS OF
VARIOUS SIZES REQUIRED TO MAKE 1000 BOARD
FEET OF LUMBER
Diameter Length Number
inside bark of of logs
at top logs required
to saw 1000
Inches Feet board feet
6 10 100
7 12 50
8 12 40
9 16 20
13 14 10
17 16 5
23 14 3
26 16 2
39 14 1
Investigations made several years ago proved that it takes twice
as long to fell and cut up 1000 board feet of logs from trees 8 inches
in diamete* as from trees 25 inches in diameter. It takes three times
as long to skid logs 8 inches in diameter as logs 20 inches in diameter ;
four times as long to load them and twice as long to saw them.
When the factors of additional cost for handling small logs are
combined with the differential in value between large and small or
defective logs, it follows that the profit from marketing first grade
logs of either pine or hardwoods may easily be three times as much
as from third grade logs.
This is, of course, an argument for holding a woodlot until it is
mature instead of cutting it off while the trees are still small. It is
also an argument for proper treatment during the life of the forest so
that the mature trees will be sound and straight and of the most val-
uable varieties. A mature stand of hardwoods 80 years old with 50
logs per acre making 5000 board feet is evidently much more profit-
1. "After the Hurricane" Connecticut Woodlands, May 1939.
20 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
able to log than a stand 50 years old with perhaps 60 small logs mak-
ing 1500 board feet, for not only is the yield three times as much but
the profit per log is much greater. A pine stand of 80 years may
have 100 logs per acre making 10,000 board feet as compared to 120
logs making 3000 board feet at the age of 50 years. As a forest grows
older and the trees become more crowded some of the least sturdy
will die in an untreated woodland. Under good management these
trees are removed in successive cuttings, and an even growth of the
remaining trees is maintained.
That Connecticut is capable of producing large and high grade
logs was demonstrated in the logs purchased by the Northeastern
Timber Salvage Administration from the woodlot of Mr. Arthur H.
Griswold in Wethersfield. Fifteen of these oak logs scaled 6,090
board feet or an average of 406 board feet a log. The largest log
scaled 630 board feet. Fourteen of these logs were graded No. 1.
The net profit to the owner on the fifteen logs is said to have been
These facts are being recognized by an increasing number of the
more intelligent lumbermen of the country. Many of them, particu-
larly in the west, have given up the practice of cutting small trees
and have found that their operations are increasingly profitable, as
they eliminate these trees which were formerly cut at a loss. The
practice of selecting the large mature trees and leaving the younger
trees for future growth is known as "Selective Logging" or the "Se-
lection System." By it the land is kept perpetually in a productive
condition, the soil is protected from injurious exposure to sun and
winds and timber of the highest quality and price is raised.
5. THE VALUE OF FORESTS TO THE FUTURE OF
The State has just established a Development Commission with
the purpose of encouraging the establishment of new industries in
Connecticut. Undoubtedly the forests, as one of the chief sources of
raw materials, must play an important part in such a movement even-
tually if not immediately.
As already pointed out, Connecticut forests at present are long
on small poor grade material and short on large high grade material.
Industries might be established in the near future to utilize the small
material in making good pulp, material for plastics, charcoal, wood
acid or other chemical products. Should such industries be estab-
lished without some public control of cutting practices they would
result in extensive clear cutting just as did the brass, brick and char-
coal industries of the past generation. The most profitable form of
forest management to the land owner and the one consistent with the
greatest benefits to the State as a whole, is one in which the main
objective is the raising of high grade lumber, but which produces a
large amount of low grade materials through intermediate cuttings
while the high grade material is growing.
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 21
At the present time Connecticut is producing less than 10 per
cent of the approximately 100,000,000 board feet used annually in the
state. Under proper management our forests are fully capable of
yielding after twenty or thirty years as much lumber as at present
consumed, although it is possible that it 'might still be necessary to
import part of the softwood needed by the building trade. This is
especially true now that so much of our nearly mature pine and hem-
lock has been destroyed by the hurricane.
Such a reorientation of forest management would benefit not only
the land owners and the manufacturer but indirectly every one who
lives in the state. Well managed forests and the industries incident
to them employ a great many people. The employment possibilities
of a forest depend upon the age and character of the timber. For our
Connecticut forests it is fair to estimate forestry operations would be
warranted economically at the following rates based upon full time
employment of 250 days a year.
Sapling forest 1 man per 1000 acres
Cordwood " 1 " " 500 "
Timber " 1 " " 250 "
Upon this basis our forests can now support at least 3500 men
and should in time support from two to four times as many.
As a matter of fact, forest employment is to a considerable ex-
tent seasonal. In the older countries comparatively few work the
entire year in the woods. The remainder of the year is employed on
farms, or on public undertakings like road construction. On such a
basis the number of people finding part time employment in the
forests would be at least double the figures above. As forest indus-
tries are developed the employment in the rural towns would also be
Every one who builds a house pays indirectly a large freight bill
on lumber imported into the state. It has been estimated that for
the average house this cost alone amounts to at least $300. For the
family that rents a house this cost is passed on in the form of monthly
payments. Many of the industries of Connecticut use a large amount
of lumber either in the process of manufacture or for packing.
Connecticut forests are capable of producing lumber suitable for
all these demands. Experience following the hurricane has shown
the high quality of our lumber when properly manufactured and
Connecticut grown white pine and white oak had an important
part in the building of the state and it was only after the original for-
ests had disappeared that the native second growth timber, now in
competition with first growth timber from other parts of the coun-
try, fell into disrepute. Builders and contractors are now inclined to
criticise our white pine for its low strength, stiffness and nail hold-
ing power. While it is true that white pine is not as strong as Doug-
22 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
las fir, southern pine or eastern spruce, woods which have largely
taken its place in house construction, this handicap can be overcome
by using larger sizes of timber and more and larger nails. On the
other hand white pine swells and shrinks and warps less than these
other lumbers. It is famous for its ease of working which has long
made it the popular wood of pattern makers. Its paint holding char-
acteristics are superior to those of the other building lumbers used
and this quality alone should endear it to New England, a region
which prides itself on keeping well painted.
THE FORESTS AND WILD LIFE
In the early part of this century forests and wild life alike had
reached the low point in their history. It was natural that conserva-
tionists of all kinds should resort to artificial methods of restocking.
In the case of wild life this has meant the establishment of fish hatch-
eries and the planting of millions of fish of various kinds and the
wide distribution of game birds and eggs of several varieties. In the
case of the forest it has meant the planting of thousands of acres of
abandoned fields with evergreens. None of these measures have been
entirely successful and none offer the final solution to the problem.
Some varieties of fish have been planted which were not adapted to
our streams and many have been planted in streams deficient in the
kind of food needed. In the same way experimentation with foreign
birds often resulted in failure and even our own grouse and quail
found conditions too much changed from the original conditions to
which they were adapted to permit successful colonization. The
same is true of many forest plantations. Imported trees like Scotch
pine have proved a disappointment and even the native white pine has
suffered severely from the pine weevil when planted under unnatural
Conservation of wild life as well as of forests will not be a suc-
cess until conditions suitable for natural regeneration are obtained.
Forest fires have in the past been one of the chief enemies of natural
regeneration of both plant and animal life. AVidespread clear cutting
also creates an artificial condition.
The underlying principle of wild life management is that with
the exception of migratory birds our game birds and animals spend
their lives within a relatively small area and must have suitable food
and shelter throughout the year if they are to thrive and multiply.
Numerous small evergreen plantations furnish valuable shelter in
winter, but since such plantations are lacking in berry bushes they
must not be too extensive and should be broken up by openings and
strips of berry bushes or should have a mixture of fruit and nut trees.
Old apple trees and wild grape vines should be saved. While large
clear cuttings are undesirable, small cuttings and small patches of old
fields scattered through a well managed forest are necessary to give
best results. Contrary to common opinion frequent thinnings in a
hardwood forest tend to preserve good cover because the numerous
A k M College
StiU*a ter > 0kla '
HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS. 23
root sprouts from the cut trees persist several years even in dense
stands. Good forestry practice does not countenance the cutting of
underbrush except on small areas as preparation for forest planting.
The economic returns from wild life except in case of small areas
controlled by rich men's clubs are relatively small compared to those
possible from forest products. The practice of forestry, therefore,
offers the best guarantees that owners will be willing to continue to
allow public hunting on their lands.
FORESTS, RECREATION AND SCENIC VALUES
Other forms of recreation besides hunting and fishing are inti-
mately connected with forests. Hiking, picnicking and camping in
summer and skiing and snowshoeing in winter are all enjoyed in the
woods. In general the larger the trees the greater the enjoyment of
people who visit the forests.
Much is said about the beauty of Connecticut, but like the weather
little is done about it. Well managed forests with a proper propor-
tion of large trees add much to the beauty of the landscape and have
a not inconsiderable financial value in attracting summer residents as
well as permanent home seekers. Many places formerly beautiful
were temporarily ruined by the loss of shade trees and woods through
the hurricane. The health giving qualities of forests have long been
FORESTS AND WATER SUPPLIES
In any state with the density of population of Connecticut the
supply of potable water may well be a limiting factor in the growth
of population. Connecticut was naturally rich in clear springs and
streams. Some of the former have been destroyed by forest removal
and many of the latter have been ruined by pollution. Forests are
not only valuable in equalizing run-off, but have great value in pre-
venting erosion and the silting up of streams and in other ways help
in preserving a supply of pure water.
A FOREST POLICY
It is evident that if Connecticut is to get the full benefit from its
large forest area it must have a more definite forest policy. The fol-
lowing suggestions are believed fundamental to such a policy.
1. There must be adequate protection from fire, insects and disease.
Under normal conditions all of these sources of damage are fairly
well controlled but any abnormal combination of weather and
other unknown factors may result in devastating fires or serious
infestations by such insects as the Gipsy Moth.
2. There must be safeguards against excessive taxation. It is be-
lieved that present laws afford adequate protection to forest own-
ers as related to owners of other forms of real estate but that the
tax burden should be readjusted to lighten the load on all real
4GHICDLTURE & MRCMMCAl COLiii
APR 15 1940
24 HURRICANE DAMAGED FORESTS.
3. The State should own at least three hundred thousand acres of
state forests in consolidated tracts of not less than 3000 acres
each. These tracts would serve as nucleii for the control of forest
fires, for the building of wood using industries and for the spread
of forestry knowledge among private owners. They would pro-
duce a large amount of high grade lumber for industry. They
would furnish labor for unemployed and eventually increase the
State's revenue. They would supplement the state parks as rec-
reational areas and would be managed either as game sanctuaries
or public hunting grounds according to the needs of the State
Board of Fisheries and Game. They would eventually yield a
considerable revenue to the State.
4. A system of town forests of smaller area is desirable to serve as
local recreational centers, to furnish employment and wood to
unemployed residents and eventually increase the revenue of the
5. Some form of public control over forest devastation is necessary.
The State regulates the size of fish caught and even prohibits fish-
ing in certain streams. It limits the season for hunting and the
bag that the sportsman can take. It limits the speed of automo-
biles and prohibits unsightly dumps and public nuisances. It con-
trols bathing in certain waters, prohibits stream pollution and ex-
cludes people with certain diseases from some industries. Up to
the present the owner of a forest may devastate it as though he
were alone on an island and his forest had no relation to the wel-
fare of the rest of the state.
Thirty-five states, including Vermont and New York, have now
passed laws authorizing the establishment of Conservation Dis-
tricts with power to make and enforce laws governing the use of
natural resources within their boundaries. This is an approach
to the Swedish system of local control and would probably fit
Connecticut traditions much better than either Federal or State-
6. When some system of public control of private forests has been
established, a systematic effort should be made to secure new
wood using industries especially of the kind that will use such
smaller and poorer grades of wood as would result .from thin-
7. More systematic instruction of forest owners is necessary.
Through numerous demonstrations of good practice on the state
forests and in private forests, frequent group meetings and the
personal contact of foresters, a better understanding of the for-
estry problems should be brought about. One Extension For-
ester is not sufficient. Through an adequate force of Forest
Rangers working in close cooperation with the Extension For-
ester much headway could be made in the application of the first
principles of forestry which alone would more than double the
productivity of our forests.